Top 8 rules of networking


Published on

Networking is a critical part of any job hunt or business life, yet it's probably the easiest thing to get wrong. But for many, approaching people they don't know for help finding or getting a job is uncomfortable and nerve wracking.
Knowing a few etiquette guidelines can help you keep your conduct aboveboard, and perhaps ease a few fears about putting yourself in front of the well-connected.

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Top 8 rules of networking

  1. 1. Career Advice Oct 26 2011The Top Eight Rules of NetworkingBy Kelly EggersYou know the type. The people with obnoxious laughs, pushy pitches,and the ability to corner you at industry conferences and talk aboutthemselves continuously for what seems like hours? The ones whoclearly mean well, but their lack of etiquette can make you wish youhadnt even gone?Heres a friendly suggestion: Dont be that person.Networking is a critical part of any job hunt, yet its probably the easiest thing to get wrong. Usingliving, breathing connections works better than blindly sending out resumes over the Internet, but formany, approaching people they dont know for help finding or getting a job is uncomfortable and nervewracking.Knowing a few etiquette guidelines can help you keep your conduct aboveboard, and perhaps ease afew fears about putting yourself in front of the well-connected.Have a Solid IntroductionAs most know, first impressions count heavily. Make sure your attire, attitude and overall appearanceare the best possible before introducing yourself to someone.If youre at a networking event, pay close attention to the groups people have formed around theroom. Join people who are by themselves, or a group of two or three whose positions provide youwith a physical "opening" to jump into the conversation, says Ivan Misner, founder of California-basedbusiness networking organization BNI. Introduce yourself by clearly stating your name and makingeye contact while you shake their hand, says Carol Goman, a nonverbal communication expert andauthor of The Silent Language of Leaders. Weak handshakes turn people off, so practice yours with afriend to make sure its neither bone-crushing nor wimpy.If introducing yourself online, remember to follow in-person social etiquette rules. If someone referredyou to the person, for example, put the mutual contacts name in the subject line of the e-mail, saysGoman, so theres an immediate level of recognition. "Email is a cold medium," she says. "If you canwarm it up with something personal, do so."Dont Confuse People with Your PitchNo one needs to hear your entire work history upon meeting you. If someone asks you to tell them abit about yourself, your explanation from start to finish shouldnt take more than 30 to 60 seconds.This is especially true when youre networking with people who dont work in your industry. Going intothe nitty gritty details of your specific skills and interests in chemical engineering will likely go over thehead of someone who works in management consulting or marketing. "Most people begin by recitingtheir resume in reverse chronological order," says Jodi Glickman, author of Great on the Job, andfounder of the career consultancy by the same name."Instead, you should start with what you want to do -- your destination -- then a brief backstory, andconnect the dots between them," says Glickman. Share whats relevant, not whats recent. "The latestthing youve been working on might not be related to what you want to do next."Dont Tell a Sob Story
  2. 2. No matter how tough its been, you need to paint a positive picture when youre making newconnections. "Potential employers or connections arent going to bring on people who are down in thedumps just to make them feel better," says Glickman. They want people who project a good, can-doattitude, and who will be energetic and excited about the position, she says, not people who are justexcited to have a job.Complaining in general has no place in networking – whether its about unemployment, how toughyour job is, or how bad your former employer was. "In this economy, people say Hows business?and theyll actually tell you," says Misner. "It doesnt do any good to complain about how bad businessor the economy is. People hate doing business with people who are grumpy."Spend More Time Listening Than TalkingIn this case, the old adage is true: People were given two ears and one mouth, and you should usethem proportionately. "Just like in the dating world, you should spend more time listening to andunderstanding the person in front of you than talking about yourself," says Mark Jeffries, a businesscommunications consultant and author of Whats Up With Your Handshake?. "Once you have trulyunderstood what drives this person, then you can introduce yourself and tell your own stories in a waythat best fits their specific needs.""Most people think that the really great networkers are extroverts, but extroverts dont shut up," saysMisner. Talking about yourself is a good way to spread the word about who you are, but listeningclosely can help you form a deeper relationship with someone.Avoid Being Socially IneptTheres a fine line between being friendly and personable and being awkward. You do not want to bethe latter."Steer clear of talking about things that would make people uncomfortable," says Glickman. "Forexample, dont tell me that you were out of work for six months because you recently had brainsurgery, or because you were laid off." People are going to feel as if they need to pity you, but youdont want that to be the foundation of a relationship. Being vague about negatives – like sayingyoure returning after a six-month medical leave, or after spending some time traveling – is a goodway to keep the conversation on a high level.You should maintain some normal social constructs, such as where you direct your eyes and howclosely you stand to people. Looking from someones eyes to the middle of their forehead isprofessional, versus a more social gaze of eyes-to-mouth, says Goman. You should also try to keepan arms length away from anyone youre talking to, says Misner.Dont Overstay Your WelcomeTaking up too much of someones time is almost as bad as ignoring them entirely."Its imperative that you understand when your time is up," says Jeffries. "You win in the social world ifyou release people first, so if you see a slow crossing of the arms, an increase in the amount of timetheyre looking over your shoulder, or a sudden obsession with the word anyway, they are giving younot-so-subtle hints that theyd like to move on."Have a few "graceful exits" ready, says Goman. Examples: "It was a pleasure meeting you! There area couple of other people here who I said Id get it touch with while Im here," or "Is there anyone here Ican introduce you to?" If youre still lost, theres always the standby "Im going to run to grab anotherdrink."Hand out Your Business Card, Not Your Resume
  3. 3. Its not ok to pass along an unsolicited resume. Offline or online, you need to work on forming arelationship with someone before you ask them for anything at all. Many people overlook thisprofessional courtesy, and ask brand new connections to serve as a referral when submitting aresume or application."Dont ask strangers for a job," says Glickman. "You cant ask someone to do a favor for you who youdont have a relationship with. Its unprofessional, tacky and ineffective."Instead, go for the business card exchange. Make sure that when you offer yours, you specifically andpolitely request theirs. Dont assume theyll solicit it on their own. Once youre a bit of a distance fromthem, take a minute to jot down a few notes about the person you just met on a sheet of paper –anything personal they may have mentioned, a news item you discussed, or a business idea youtalked about. You can use that to politely jog their memory in a follow-up note.Follow Up and ThroughPerhaps the "Cardinal Rule" of networking is that once youve planted the seeds of a new relationship,you must follow up to maintain it. Whether its a business referral, job lead, or a professionalconnection, get in touch – within 24 hours – to say you enjoyed meeting them."No one owes you anything, so you need to be as ingratiating as you can," says Glickman. Peoplewho have taken the time to speak with you and provide you with connections or guidance deserve athank you. "Assume that you can learn from everyone. They might not be the right person, but theymight know someone who you might want to be in touch with."Its also critical to reach out to anyone a connection refers you to. "People hate it when they givesomeone a referral and the person never bothers to follow up on it," says Misner. If you dont, itmakes two parties look bad, he says – you, since you didnt follow through on a potential lead, and theperson who referred you, since they recommended you as a reliable resource.